THE WEEKEND IN FOOTBALL
NFL Week 16 good, bad and ugly: Sorting out the playoff races
Week 16 in the NFL brought us more of what we should expect: the unexpected. Teams either solidified or lost playoff spots, some solidified draft positions. Either way, it was yet another exciting holiday weekend of football, with two games left on the docket.
-The Kansas City Chiefs won their third consecutive game and locked up the AFC West divisional crown by defeating the Miami Dolphins 29-13. The Chiefs started the season a dominant 5-0, but dropped six of their next seven games. Now 9-6 heading into the playoffs, they’re looking like a team no one wants to face in the AFC.
-Another week, another astonishing performance by Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. In their 27-23 win over the Tennessee Titans, Gurley rushed for 118 yards, caught another 158 yards of passes, including two receiving touchdowns. With all the Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Carson Wentz MVP talk, where does Gurley fit in?
-The New Orleans Saints beat NFC South division rival Atlanta Falcons 23-13 to secure a playoff berth. In what was supposed to be one of the better games to watch this weekend, the Saints took control early and never really felt threatened by the Falcons. Key turnovers contributed to their control of this game. Perhaps the play of the year came when Saints’ rookie Cornerback Marshon Lattimore caught an interception off his butt!
-The Detroit Lions lost to the hapless Cincinnati Bengals 26-17 to eliminate them from playoff contention. The Bengals came into the game playing out the string of a disappointing season with a lame duck coach. The Lions came into the game fighting for an NFC playoff spot. For the Lions to only muster 276 total yards of offense and lose was terrible. (insert Herm Edwards’ “play to win the games” soundbite)
-The Dallas Cowboys lost at home to the Seattle Seahawks 21-12 in a loser leaves town cage match. Well, it was actually a loser doesn’t make NFC playoffs football game, but loser leaves town cage match sounds cooler. The Cowboys allowed a paltry 136 yards of offense, but committed three costly turnovers. Those turnovers ended up being the dirty ref that hit them with the steel chair as the Seahawks escaped the cage to win.
-The Jacksonville Jaguars clinched a playoff berth when the Titans lost, but they themselves looked very human as their defense was torched by Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco 49ers 44-33. This isn’t the type of film the Jags want out there heading into a playoff berth. While most people assume they play a lot of man, they play more zone than most think, giving up 238 yards passing and two touchdowns. The 49ers also managed to run for 131 yards on the ground. This may not bode well when game plans will focus on your weaknesses in the playoffs.
-The Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t spoil the Carolina Panthers hopes of a “win and get in” game next week because they lost 22-19. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton fumbled the snap, but still rushed in the go ahead touchdown. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston proceeded to get strip sacked, and thought he recovered the football on the ensuing drive. When the refs awarded the Panthers possession, Winston proceeded to throw the type of tantrum you’d expect from one of those kids who’s mom should probably spank instead of sending them to “time out.” Acting like a petulant child is okay for a spoiled brat, not an NFL quarterback.
-The Factory of Sadness continues as the Cleveland Browns lost to the Chicago Bears 20-3. The Browns have locked up the number one overall draft pick in consecutive years now. Here’s to hoping they can draft a franchise quarterback who’d like to help turn that franchise around. They’re an intriguing team to watch with the bounty of draft picks they have next year, the cap space they have, and the assembly line of young talent currently under contract. But for now, they’re 1-30 in the last two seasons, with a visit to Pittsburgh looming next week.
-The New York Jets lost 14-7 to the Los Angeles Chargers (still feels weird typing or saying that). This was a game in which if you strictly looked at the box score, you’d think the team with 197 rushing yards would’ve dominated. As far as I can remember/research, this is the first time since 2009 when a team lost a game in which it ran for that many yards. That team you ask: the
New York Jets.
There were so many pivotal moments this week in which games could’ve gone either way. Some teams competed hard no matter what was on the line. Some managed to piss the bed because they were so nervous. Either way, another great week of football is in the books. How do we call Lattimore’s interception? “Butt-erception?” “Ass-erception?” “Glut-erception?” Is New England quarterback Tom Brady poised to be league MVP at age 40? Or will Todd Gurley make a late season charge to win it? Will last year’s NFC Super Bowl rep (the Falcons) miss the playoffs? How far can the: 1)Philadelphia Eagles go without Carson Wentz? 2)…the Pittsburgh Steelers without Antonio Brown? So many questions left to be answered as week 16 comes to a close. Let’s see what week 17 and beyond has in store for us.